Going the Distance ‘Virtually’ for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation

John Stevens and his family didn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic stop their annual tradition of supporting the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, whose mission is to find a cure and help families with resources as they deal with the challenges of childhood brain tumors.

The American Honda (AHM) associate has made the PBTF’s Ride for Kids fundraiser a family affair, volunteering with his wife, two daughters and son since he was transferred to Alpharetta, Georgia, in 2014. But when the Atlanta ride was cancelled this year as a result of the pandemic, the family got creative.

Stevens has participated in several Ride for Kids events over his 18 years with Honda. Ride for Kids goes on in communities across the country, and has raised over $45 million in money to support brain tumor research and more. As a District Sales Manager in Seattle, Stevens attended his first Ride for Kids many years ago.

“The second year I went, I got one of my dealers to bring a bunch of bikes so people could look at them,” he said. “I sat and listened to the program and realized what Ride for Kids really meant. Some of the kids there are doing OK, but they have all suffered. I went to Ride for Kids for the motorcycles, but stayed because I have a heart. You can’t go to one of these events and not be moved by these children.”

Upon moving to Alpharetta, Stevens got more involved in the event, serving on the task force for the Atlanta Ride for Kids. When he saw fundraising was lagging far behind this year, Stevens felt he had to do something. The family decided to act upon an idea from his daughter to have a Ride for Kids with dirt bikes rather than road motorcycles.

Luckily, the dirt bike-loving family has a 15-acre farm outside of Atlanta where Stevens set up a 1-mile course. And the Quarantine 100 was born; together the family rode 100 miles around the course and raised money for the PBTF with each lap.

The Stevens kids, Arie, 13; Mae Belle 12; Luke, 7; and even his wife, Cori, were a little hesitant to reach out and ask for pledges until Stevens began spreading the word over social media, at work and among his friends. Together, the family bested their $5,000 goal and will get matching funds from Honda for their donation to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

“There’s something to be said of a company that recognizes when it’s people are in the community and making a difference,” Stevens said. “Honda stands next to me, and that’s awesome.”

Ride for Kids is trying to raise money, thanks to Honda and a partnership with the REVER motorcycle app, with more virtual rides amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Stevens hopes events like his and others make up for big events that used to be held annually. Last year’s Atlanta Ride for Kids raised $120,000.

“I lost my mom to cancer, but that’s not what got me into this, and when you go to a Ride for Kids event and talk to people, you realize you’re surrounded by those who have been affected by this or are survivors themselves,” Stevens said, adding that people should figure out their passion and use it to give back. “Figure out how to do walking, biking, knitting, whatever you are good at and help. We all have skills and the ability to do something from home. You can practice social distancing and still do something. There’s a lot of distractions and anger out there, but you have to find what you’re good at and rally around it. And if you can get your family involved, even better.”

The Stevens are planning to continue the Quarantine 100 in the future – hopefully under different conditions. “I hope in a non-COVID world to invite a few other families out here, do the event and hand over a bigger check,” he said.

Regardless of the conditions, Stevens and his family will continue their tradition of supporting the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

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